NEW YORK (Reuters) - The police officer who confronted and shot the truck attacker who killed eight people on a New York City bike path on Tuesday was being hailed as a hero for quick action that ended the carnage.
Officer Ryan Nash, 28, was at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan on Tuesday with his partner John Hasiotis responding to a call that a student was threatening to kill himself when people told them of the pandemonium a short distance away.
The officers ran from the school and Nash spotted the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, shouting and brandishing what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun. Nash immediately opened fire, hitting Saipov in the abdomen and ending the attack.
“He thinks what he did was not an act of heroism. He thinks it’s why he joined the police department,” New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill told reporters, referring to Nash. “I don’t think we could have found a more humble human being.”
Nash, on the NYPD for five years, is assigned to the First Precinct in Lower Manhattan.
He told reporters at a press briefing that he appreciated the public recognition of his actions and those of his fellow officers.
“Although I feel that we were just doing our job, like thousands of officers do every day, I understand the importance of yesterday’s events and the role we played,” Nash said.
“I just want to thank my family and friends for their support and all the responding officers who assisted me.”
Speaking at the news conference alongside O’Neill and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Nash deserved all the accolades he was receiving.
“He was very humble about what he did, but what he did was extraordinary and gave people such faith and such appreciation in our police force,” de Blasio said. “He thought this was all in a day’s work and what a cop does to protect other people.”
Patrick J. Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said Nash was first at the scene. He said Hasiotis pinpointed witnesses and Officers Michael Welsome and Kevin McGinn collected the gunman’s weapons and with Hasiotis secured the area.
“While we mourn the terrible loss of life and the injuries to innocent people we are proud of and grateful for the quick action of a team of police officers who responded to cries for help and took charge of a chaotic and dangerous situation.”
Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Toni Reinhold